Suicide has been an impressing issue for most countries. Some people are open to talk about it, but some are not. Some still feel like it’s not a problem, and some are too scared to mention it. More than ever, this is the right time to be more open about what suicide means and what you can do to prevent it not just in your own life but also for the people around you.
First, let’s define what suicide means. It means harming oneself with the intent to end one’s life. Based on American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, here are some facts and figures:
- In the United States, Suicide ranks 10 as the leading cause of death.
- Daily, an average of 132 Americans dies each day.
- 1.4 million Americans have attempted suicide.
- For people ages 10 to 34, suicide is the second leading cause of death.
- For people ages 35 to 54, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death.
- 90% of those who died because of suicide was diagnosed with a mental health condition.
- 10.3% of Americans have thoughts about suicide.
- 54% of Americans have been affected by suicide.
As you see, it is a serious problem, but this is not a lost cause. This doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. You might have heard about suicide from a friend, family member or even from the news. Sometimes it could feel like it’s not real until a close person you know experiences it.
If you’ve been close to someone who has been telling you about how they want to end their life, who have been depressed for several months now, who always think about death and such, here’s a tool that you can use until professional help comes in.
Suicide First Aid Kit
It could be overwhelming when someone tells you that they want to end their life. It could be a friend who has been depressed and want to give up or a family member that you know. Here’s what you can do to help them.
First things first, do not panic. Do not go around calling all people that you know. If you panic, then you can’t be of any help. When someone tells you that they want to commit suicide, the best thing to do is take action and be there and be genuinely authentic to show that you are concerned about them.
Help them process their thoughts and keep them talking.
The fact that they told you about having suicidal thoughts means that they are still not 100% sure that they will do it. It means that they have it in their head. And that means a big opportunity to help them realize that suicide is not the answer and that life is worth living. To help them with safety and risk, you can ask these questions:
You can ask them questions like:
- How are you planning to end your life?
- What will you use?
- How do you think it’s going to solve the problem?
These questions are not to provoke them nor to encourage them that suicide is okay. But this is you being there for them and taking seriously what they are telling you. This is also a way to delay what they will do, especially that it’s harmful. Maybe they need someone to talk to during that time, and that’s more than enough.
The last thing this person needs is to feel distressed or judged because they felt that way. It might only make the situation worse. Imagine talking to a friend who has a problem; do you reject them? Of course not. You show that you are present for them. This applies in this situation too. Your friend doesn’t need you to solve their problems. They need compassion and understanding. You can try telling these to them:
That seems hard, and I appreciate that you trust me with your story. How can I help you?
I care about you, but I don’t know how I can support you. Let me know and remember that you can always talk to me.
I know that your situation feels so difficult right now, and it’s challenging to feel okay when things are hard.
Continue to be there for them
Talking might have relieved their stress, but that doesn’t mean that they are fine already. The best thing you can do is to continue checking on them and show that you truly care. You can start sending them a message like, “I’ve just remembered about you. How are you doing?” or “I am always here to listen if you need someone to talk to.”
Open about professional support
This could be tricky in a way because they might not be ready for the idea, or they could be defensive once they hear you asking them to go to a therapist. But you can do it in a subtle way that’s not forceful and not judgmental.
Instead of telling them that, “I think you need help.” You can say, “Have you thought of talking to a professional?”, “I am here to listen to you, but do you think it could help you better if professional help is available?”
Here are the things you shouldn’t do:
- Offering various solutions
- Telling them to get themselves together, snap out of it, man up, just get over it or just cheer up.
- You are changing the subject and making it about you.
- Telling them they shouldn’t feel like that
- There’s no reason to feel that, and they’re just dramatic
- Telling them that they are ungrateful and there’s someone feeling worse than them.
- Telling them they are just silly, and they are not serious
Saying these things could just make them feel judged, unheard, isolated, alone, criticized or analyzed.
Someone who tells you that they are having suicidal thoughts trusts you enough to share this. Because it’s not easy to share your feelings, especially when you are afraid to be judged and rejected, so if this happens, be there for them. Be a friend. Take them seriously.
If you’re currently struggling with suicidal thoughts or have ended your life numerous times and wondering why you are still alive, I know life could be so tough and hard and it could feel like ending your life is the easiest thing to do. I understand you. You are not alone on this. Feel free to reach out and I would love to be there for you!